Exercise selection is going to be an absolutely vital component of what differentiates a poor strength program from a GREAT one.

Basically, the exercises that you choose to use in your program are going to influence not only how strong you become but also how many calories you burn during that workout (or more so afterwards), how many muscle fiber’s get worked, what type of hormonal release you see from the training as well as how long it takes you to complete your workout.

Today, I want to get you set up with the best exercises to perform so that each and every one of your workouts produces optimal results.

Now, being that I know you don’t want to waste your time on exercises that don’t produce results, we’re going to ensure that you are only doing the exact exercises that will bring you success.

100% Results from your 100% Effort. That’s the way we bring it!

You typically have two different categories of exercises to choose from: compound exercises and isolated exercises.

Compound exercises are my preferred weapon of choice since they recruit the most muscles being worked, burn more calories and produce the fastest results possible.

Isolation exercises have their place but should not take priority in any strength program.

Here is a list of some of my favorites. The following are excellent examples of compound exercises:

When performing these movements you are accomplishing two distinct things.

First, they work at least two or more muscles at the same time.

Take the squat for example.  Sure, you’re going to hit the lower body hard – quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes but do you realize you’re also getting amazing upper body work in?  The squat will build stronger abs than any crunch off the floor ever could.  Talk about a full body exercise.

And second, you have multiple joint movement.  Looking at the squats, you’ll be moving the knees, hips and ankles.

Once again, greater body activation. The more of your body you can get involved in every single activity you do, the better your results are going to be.

For the person looking for maximum fat loss and some great muscle building, compound movements are the KING and what your exercise routine should be built upon.

Now, before we neglect anything, isolation exercises do have their place.

So what are isolation exercises? Isolation exercises target one single specific muscle group. For example, they include movements such as:

….and so on. All of these are only going to be working one joint and one muscle group. That right there is THE huge difference between compound and isolation exercises.

I’ve noticed over the years that many people working out in the gym today are using 80% isolation exercises and about 20% compound exercises. This is a big reason why they never get the results they truly want and rarely see any progress.

That won’t be you though.  Because we’re going to take your workout program and primarily focus on the exercises that will bring you results… which is?

Yep! You got it – Compound Movements.

This isn’t to say you can’t do any isolation work though. I know you have some specific areas you want to target. Maybe you want to firm up the back of your arms (which would be your triceps) so that you feel more comfortable in sleeveless shirts or perhaps you want more leg definition and decrease the inner thigh flab.

Whatever your goal, it can help to add one or two isolated exercises just for that muscle group to really push it to the limit but always remember that they will be getting worked when you do your compound exercises as well.

One last point I want to stress when it comes to exercise selection is, forget about all those lies you’ve heard about shaping and toning your muscles with sculpting exercises and light weight, IT’S COMPLETE B.S.!!

The truth is, muscles respond best to exercises where you’re lifting a maximum amount of weight and increasing the overall level of tension that the muscle has, compound lifts are going to help with this.

And ladies, trust me on this, you won’t build big and bulky muscles by lifting heavy without the aid of anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

To sum it up remember these key points about exercise selection:

1. Build your routines around compound movements first

2. Add in isolation exercises to specifically target trouble areas

3. Lift hard and heavy – Don’t be afraid of heavy weight, there is no such thing as shaping and toning

Get it Done!

Murph

This past week I received an email from Brian who wanted some ideas on some great upper body strength training exercises that they could do from home.

His message went something to the tune of, “Help! Summer is on the way and The Suns coming Out. I need some home exercises to build my arms so I can have the Gunz Out.”

No problem Brian, this should help.

Here are my TOP 5 Killer Exercises for a Killer Summer Body!

1. Rope Climb / Pull-ups / Inverted Rows – Ok, I know Pull-ups aren’t doable yet for everyone so I have some different progressions until you can get your feet off the ground and body up to new heights. Lets start with the lessor of these 3 exercises (although still very challenging) The Inverted Row. You can use the Kitchen table or throw a strong rope around a low hanging branch of a tree in your yard. Perform this exercise by getting up under your table and pulling your chest up as seen in the pic below. From here you can move into the Assisted Rope Climb. Essentially the same movement as the inverted row, you’ll start by lying flat on the ground and grasping the rope. You’ll climb the rope hand over hand until you are almost in a full standing position. Keeping your feet in contact with the ground at all times reverse the movement by walking hand over hand back down till your laying flat on the ground again. Both of these exercises are great for beginners who can’t get their first pull-up yet or struggle to climb a rope.

2. Push-ups – These are the most basic of all upper body pressing movements however there are many variations to take it up a level. Choose from regular, close grip, wide grip, spider crawl, 2x10s, plyometric, weighted, etc – Check out this video of so many different variations.

3. Odd Object Throw – This one is as basic as it sounds but a heck of a lot of fun and will build tremendous strength and give you a great metabolic conditioning workout as well (cardio to burn fat!) Execute this movement by finding any large, heavy object (Big Rocks, Bricks, Concrete Blocks, Weighted Medicine Ball, Sandbag, Even a Dumbbell) pick it up off the ground and heave it as far as you can with a variation of different throws.

4. Sledge Hammer Chops / Split Wood – Sometimes, the ol’ fashioned household chores growing up were the best workouts I have ever done. Splitting and sawing wood was definitely one of those winter chores that I never looked forward to because it was hard work! When we were kids, Dad would do most of the splitting but my brother and I would carry and stack the wood into nice piles to burn later in the wood stove. If you don’t have firewood to cut, get out a heavy sledgehammer and “chop wood” by hitting an old tire. The heavier the hammer, the better the workout.

5. Farmer Carry – One of my all time favorite movements that’s pretty much the Ultimate in a Strength and Conditioning exercise. Not only will you test your entire bodies strength and endurance from your grip, to forearms, biceps, shoulders, traps, upper back, core and even legs but you’ll also be huffing and puffing trying to manage the weight for more distance or time. Of course once you get good at a certain weight, its time to take it up or increase your distance, time, etc. Simply grab 2 heavy objects in your hands and start walking. Keep your body as tall as you can (think tall spine) and try not to drop. Don’t need anything expensive here, just grab a couple of 5 Gallon buckets and fill them with water or sand. They’ll get the job done!

So there you go.

5 Great Upper body (and really full body) drills you can do at home with things you already have laying around.

Try these exercises on this week and let me know how you do.

Get Work Done.

Murph

The Kettle-Bell swing is one of my favorite exercises to help develop and teach clients explosive power. During the KB swing, you’ll be using your hips as the primary muscle to “throw” the weight up towards the ceiling.

The KB swing has tremendous carry over to strengthen your Jumps, Deadlifts, Squats and Sprints but can also be used as a conditioning drill.

It is a also a great non-impact exercise to use in place of jumping.

Here is how to perform the KB Swing

 

There are key points to remember in the kettle-bell swing:

  • Hinge, don’t squat: The swing is a simple exercise but tends to be done wrong frequently.  It is not a squat, it is a powerful hip-hinge movement. That means that the hips go back (hinge), and the knees only bend slightly (they bend fully in a squat). Think about this position as a jump. If you try to jump forward as far as possible, the bottom position is the same position that you use at the bottom of the kettle-bell swing.
  • Be explosive with the hips, not the arms: The swing is a ballistic movement. If you think of a bullet fired out of a gun, it receives all of its power initially and then relies on momentum to hit its target. The same goes for the swing. The hips provide the explosive power throwing the kettle-bell up in the air and the arms are there just for the ride. Do not worry about how high the kettle-bell goes. Your goal is to let it float up once the hips have used up their power.
  • Protect the back: Do not let the kettle-bell pull the lower back into a bad position at the bottom of the swing. Keep everything tight from your shoulders, to your lats, chest and abdominals all the way to your quads and glutes.  Do not lose this tightness in any part of the movement.
  • Location on the downswing is important: Ensure the kettle-bell passes between your legs on your upper thighs.  If you’re a little intimate with the KB, you’re probably doing it right.  Wait until the last second to hinge back and let the kettle-bell go between your upper thighs. If you find your forearms hitting your lower thighs, you are putting too much strain on the lower back.

In this post I am going to explain exactly why you need to take your intensity up in your training and provide exactly how to do so.

The tips I’m about to uncover WILL invoke the body to re-shape with eye popping, muscle definition, causing the opposite sex to sustain neck injuries from whiplash and weakness in the knees…

Ok, little dramatic there but you get the idea.

Through the concepts I’m going to describe to you, you’re going to learn exactly what you need to do to rev your metabolic rate so high that you’ll burn up body fat even while you’re at home kicked back watching t.v.

Sound too good to be true?

If you’re like most people, this is exactly how you would LOVE to be able to lose fat. You’re doing very little work but melting fat off your body.

Possible? Absolutely. But, only after you put in the hard work with your trainingfirst.

Continue reading 5 Ways To Take Your Workouts to the Next Level

It’s pointless to walk into the gym without a clue of what to do.

Unfortunately, this is the plan for most people.

They may get inspired from watching videos online and think they are going to dominate their next workout.  Only when they walk in the door its like amnesia sets in and so they resort to the ol faithful cardio deck – ugh the treadmill again 😖 does anyone really enjoy that thing?

I don’t want you dreading another workout or walking around lost so… Continue reading How to Train Like a BOSS

If you’ve been in the fitness game for any amount of time you have undoubtedly come across some sort of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

P90X, CrossFit, Tabata, BodyPump amongst many other popular fitness trends are all variations of HIIT and they do work, until they don’t.

There are several issues I have with HIIT and reasons why this style of training stops working and I’m going to cover all of it in this email.

I’m also going to cover what you should be doing instead to ensure the results keep coming so let’s get into it.

First, what is high intensity interval training.  

If you are unfamiliar with HIIT I highly encourage you to Google more info but simply put, HIIT is a time period of going extremely hard on an exercise followed by a short rest or low intensity exercise.

These protocols can be prescribed in many different ways such as Tabata’s famous 20/10/4 – Go hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat for 4 rounds.

You also have CrossFit’s complete the workout as fast as possible such as the Fran WOD.  Complete 21 thrusters and 21 pull-ups, then 15 thrusters and 15 pull-ups, then 9 thrusters and 9 pull-ups, as fast as possible.  Quickest time wins.

Or you could come up with your own HIIT using something as simple as the treadmill.  Sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds, slow down and walk for 60 seconds and repeat for x amount of rounds.

I’m not even going to pretend that these methods don’t work.  They in fact do and I have personally incorporated these tactics into my own programming at Mayhem Fitness.

These methods have long been the “secret sauce,” of producing fast results in body transformations. Continue reading The Problem With High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

If you’re going to train or compete in Strongman, it is inevitable that you’re going to come across the Atlas Stone.

So, to help you out with the form and proper technique of lifting one of the most recognized events in all of Strongman sports… Check out the videos below.

How to Perform the Atlas Stone

Stone of Steel

People often over complicate their strength and fitness program with tons of needless accessory work, machines, and endless cardio 😖
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Those things are important and belong in a well rounded program however 80% of your workouts should be focused on these 8 Basic movements if you want to get Jacked and Strong 💪
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They are:

💥 Deadlifts
💥 Squats
💥 Pushups / Dips and possibly Bench Press
💥 Chin Ups and Pull Ups
💥 Heavy AF Carries
💥 Rows
💥 Sprints
💥 Jumps of all types
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Clean and Presses could honestly be in this list however, jumping movements as well as throwing implements can be used in place of the classic Olympic lift, especially for the beginner to intermediate lifter who doesn’t have the mobility or coordination yet to perform the clean and press.
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With the said, get work done with these Basic 8 Movements and all their variations and stop wasting your value time and effort on the needless 💩